Vocabulary’s got nothin’ to do with it

Content Notice: Victim blaming, trans-antagonism, reclamation of t-word slur

Perhaps it was good fortune that I caught a bug and started drowning in my lungs. I recognized earlier this week that I was very tense from working back-to-back for such a protracted period of time and even though I earmarked some time this weekend to unwind, my body decided an illness was needed earlier to get me back on my ass. During this time I’ve had a lot to fret over regarding the fragile and precarious place trans people are in, as a community, and I’m fairly certain only some of it was a fever dream. I don’t know if this marks my “return” proper, since my schedule is supposed to be daily, but I nonetheless feel compelled to say something in the interim.

Previously our struggle as trans folk was chiefly defined by a life of falling through the cracks. We existed in a constant gray area, largely omitted from laws and policies both good and bad. This omission created structural barriers that denied us access to the machinery of prosperity that Western democracies supposedly enjoy, leaving many of us to survival sex work or chronic poverty in underemployment. In essence, it used to be somewhat inaccurate to call us “second-class citizens,” not because we weren’t subordinate but because we barely qualified as citizens to begin with. It was an apartheid, only not one limited by geography or ethnicity. Just a slow genocide of omission, rather than the grand theatrics of fascism.

It had its disadvantages and I certainly wouldn’t keep things that way or seek to return them to that way. But, at the very least, when the village needed a scapegoat, we were largely overlooked outside of the occasional punchline from dickheaded comedians.

The story of the scapegoat was perhaps my favourite contribution from the Bible. It went something like this: Things would go poorly and this would be attributed to sin. Rather than punish villagers, which would surely create more strife and make the matter worse, the village would agree to burden a goat with all their sin, which would then be cast out into the desert to perish of thirst. I liked it not because I celebrated the inane violence thrust upon an innocent goat; I liked it because it demonstrated the lengths to which a human will go to avoid doing the right thing, as long as “the right thing” takes time and effort and work. The goat, being a safe victim who can’t fight back, represents the easy thing.

So I am disappointed, but entirely unphased, to find a Centrist hit my feed scapegoating gender variant folk for the victory of Trump.

During the “Weekend Update” segment, co-anchor Colin Jost made what may have seemed to many like a routine joke playing off both Tinder’s recent update and Democrat Hillary Clinton loss in the presidential election.

“The dating app Tinder announced a new feature this week, which gives users 37 different gender identity options,” Jost set up the joke, his permanent smirk on prominent display.

Then, the punchline: “It’s called, ‘Why Democrats lost the election.’”

The logic goes something like this: 1) Gender plurality is “ridiculous,” 2) The Democrats were supportive of gender plurality; 3) Therefore, the Democrats are ridiculous.

Haha, so funny. /s

Jost, of course, responded predictably when people challenged him on his “joke.” He carried on to do what all assholes do and I probably don’t have to tell you the rest: Doubling down, gaslighting, yada yada, y’all know the drill forwards and backwards.

Just a joke” is a weak-ass excuse, and in general I’m glad more people aren’t buying it anymore. What it does is observe what sits outside the boundaries of socially acceptable and then propose an environment where those boundaries are instead moved to accommodate those unacceptable things. That is the function of a joke.

Most of the time prejudiced people conceal their true beliefs and attitudes because they fear others’ criticism. They express prejudice only when the norms in a given context clearly communicate approval to do so. They need something in the immediate environment to signal that it is safe to freely express their prejudice.

Disparagement humor appears to do just that by affecting people’s understanding of the social norms – implicit rules of acceptable conduct – in the immediate context. And in a variety of experiments, my colleagues and I have found support for this idea, which we call prejudiced norm theory.

Now “tranny jokes” have been popular for decades, and were still popular when people were starting to challenge anti-woman and anti-black jokes. And at the core of all these anti-minority jokes are a number of tiresome themes progressives have been wrestling with for dog-knows-how-long: This notion that the equitable participation of minorities constitutes “political correctness,” implying that it is only by government intervention that We, the Majority, grant access to the machinery of prosperity to those yucky Others.

I just want to make something abundantly clear: I do not believe for a single moment that Jost’s joke has anything at all to do with the ongoing expansion of vocabulary to describe gender plurality; nor do I believe that the people opposed to equal treatment of trans folk do so because they’re called “mean names” like “transphobe.”

That’s because this has never been a debate about which words to use. Language has always been descriptive and is ever changing. For a community as rare and disparate and disconnected as the gender variant community, it makes perfect sense for our community to start organizing with the advent of the internet, a device which allows us to surpass the limitations of geography. It’s only logical that having been omitted from inclusion in broader society and how that manifests in the lack of vocabulary for us that we would create our own language when we came together. This is all predictable and entirely supported by the function and history of language. No one who has even the shallowest background in linguistics is surprised by this.

The opposition to “political correctness” was, always has been, and always will be, about avoiding culpability for one’s own prejudice. They oppose efforts to acquire equitable access to society for minorities not necessarily because they believe minorities are inherently inferior and deserve inequality, but because they refuse to admit inequality exists to begin with*. They don’t want to face the prospect of having at least some of their success attributed to the dumb luck of the station of their birth. They don’t want to admit they are complicit in the continuation of the structures that created this hierarchy to begin with, a hierarchy that they benefit from even if it doesn’t manifest in giant mansions and a coterie of servants at their whim.

That’s why I can write a 2200 word article without once uttering the word “transphobia” and nonetheless have it met with the signature frothy-mouthed resistance of anti-PC types. It’s why I can tiptoe around the word “misogyny” in a post about the ridiculous shit my female Premier is accused of and nonetheless have it met with the desperate flailing of “not sexist” conservatives. The calls to destroy “political correctness” aren’t merely about the elimination of an expanding vocabulary, but moreso represent the restoration of denial regarding inequality to begin with. That’s why you can be nice and patient and diplomatic and nonetheless be accused of namecalling: They aren’t offended by the word “transphobe,” they’re offended by the idea that their inaction has caused harm and continues to do so.

It ain’t about words, meng. Laws that create an environment of legal hostility for trans and gender variant folk only sprang up when we began to gain visibility. They aren’t a punitive response to the words of gender plurality–they’re a punitive response to our demands for equality, designed to punish us for suggesting things were unequal to begin with. Given that we are so badly outnumbered and our “allies” practically evaporated into thin air after Obergefell, we’re a safe victim for this message. We’re the goat onto which the sins of America are thrust. “Don’t ask for equal treatment because we’ll make it unequal just to punish you.” Which, of course, only makes sense if your belief is predicated on the notion that equality has to have existed to begin with.

I suspect this is the sentiment underlying “Make America Great Again.” Go back to the good old days when people were still in widespread denial of inequality. Go back to the good old days when you could coast on the unpaid labour of your wife while working jobs built on the unpaid labour of your black neighbour’s ancestors. Go back to the good old days when words like “sexist” and “racist” didn’t exist because the assumed superiority of white men was simply the air you breathed. Go back to the good old days when nobody compared Thanksgiving to the brutality occurring at Standing Rock. Go back to the good old days when minorities couldn’t even participate in public life, as leaders and politicians and policywriters, because their station never gave them that option.

It’s not the vainglorious, ruckus type of supremacy. No mobs chasing you out of homes or armies marching in lockstep, no smashed windows or broken knees, no torturers or kidnappings. It’s a quieter supremacy. The kind that tuts tuts at protesters protecting clean drinking water, the kind that overlooks police brutality because only “criminals” are targeted by the police, the kind that smugly claims it can agree with our ends but not our means from the safety of an ivory tower. It’s not the supremacy of murder and violence. It’s just the supremacy of inaction and complicity, whispering in your ear that somehow apathy has no moral consequences.

But inaction, too, is a choice.

I don’t think you can logically conclude that the affirmation of 0.6% of the population is what cost the Democrats the election. But I think you can conclude that, if all you’re looking for is a knee-jerk, feel-good answer to failure. Hey, even if we narrow our scope to milquetoast liberals and centrists, trans people are still outnumbered. It won’t be the first time we are blamed for something and cast out from a movement.

Really, our only recourse is that in time, we’ll see you in the desert too.

-Shiv


 

*This sentence was more directed at Centrists or Moderates, the “not-racist” Trump supporters. There are, of course, supremacists of many stripes who do believe in the superiority of one class, and therefore the inferiority of another. Please bear in mind that’s an entirely separate can of worms and is not the subject of this post.

What happens in the US doesn’t stay in the US

The question of what America’s progressives are going to do next is a complex one. There are many US analysts attempting to dissect the bloated carcass of the 2016 election and for my part I’m probably going to take a while to really take stock in terms of action in the United States. I’ve started regular donations to Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union and I strongly urge you to do the same if you have disposable income.

The problem, of course, is that Trump is a symptom–and the disease which caused it knows no borders. Something I do have more direct involvement in is the politics of Alberta and Canada. There are only limited ways I can help in the United States but right here, at home, there’s hot iron for me and other Canadian progressives to strike–because all signs point to our next Trump, too. Most of us will only be indirectly affected by the disaster that is sure to be the Trump administration, but we’re afraid nonetheless. Ideas don’t stick to borders.

After all, I’ve been mocking our very own opportunistic climate change denying xenophobic forced birther Christians-can-do-no-wrong fuck-the-gay-kids alt-right posterboy grifter and conman. This is the same leadership hopeful of Alberta’s so-called “Progressive” Conservatives who got a pat on the back from Michael Gove of all people and who manufactured the niqab outrage in our last federal election. That’s like getting an endorsement from Emperor Palpatine.

The question, of course, is what does it mean for Canadians that the projected winner of the PC leadership, Jason Kenney, is a derivative of Trump-esque beliefs? Specifically, what does it mean for conservative Canadians–the “not sexist/racist” kind who support fiscal conservatism–when at least some of their big tent includes the “proudly sexist and racist”?

If you consider yourself a centrist or conservative in Canada, you are overdue for an honest introspection of who exactly sits in your “big tent.” Like American conservatives, the right-wing has enjoyed successes in the recent past by uniting many different voting blocs under a single banner; indeed, the big tent fracturing is likely one of the largest contributors to the left-leaning New Democratic Party’s (NDP) success. So if you’re one of those more reasonable centrist types, the voting bloc that seems to think Trudeau Sr.’s budgeting was bad but thought he was on to something when he said “the nation has no place in the bedroom,” then you have a problem. Because also sharing space in your tent of fiscal conservatism is, you know, the voting blocs that would put a self-admitted rapist in the White House and bring the government back into people’s bedrooms.

If you’re not convinced, you need only look at how the current race for the Progressive Conservative leadership is playing out. Two centrist candidates, Sandra Jansen and Donna Kennedy-Glans, ran for PC leadership on platforms that fit the bill of fiscally conservative but socially progressive: Jansen in particular was explicit about a woman’s reproductive right to choose and her support of the NDP’s environmental protections. In other words she was just the sort of reasonable voice a progressive could communicate with, since she was less concerned with towing the party line and more concerned with whether individual policies were effective and needed. I don’t think I would’ve voted for her but I wouldn’t be sweating below the collar if she got in.

At the same time Canada was curled up into a ball and crying into its knees as the results of the US election came in, revealing some 60-odd million who actively supported Trump and another ~180 million who didn’t seem bothered enough to vote against him, Jansen and Kennedy-Glans were entering their resignations from the PC leadership. Their reason? Their nomination forms had been returned with misogynistic slurs and rape threats written all over them. I’m sure it’s total coincidence that this sexist harassment coincides with Kenney’s bussing in so-called Bible-boys and signing up youth en masse to PC membership so they can vote for the candidate who just not-so-subtly “incentivized” them. Which, by the way, is breaking the PC charter–you’ll note the PC executives don’t care. All this, by the way, paid for by Kenney’s “charity” dedicated to himself, so he could skirt around election oversight.

Kenney’s playing dirty, and he’s slated to win.

Conservatives of Alberta, this is your big tent. For decades you’ve been able to put respectable conservatives front and centre, courting this other Trump-esque voting bloc implicitly through the use of dog whistles, banking on the fact that the respectables would be able to sit on the trembling Pandora’s Box.

Well, America just demonstrated that the deplorables in Pandora’s Box can break free, and we have the early signs right here in Alberta that the respectables don’t weigh enough to keep the lid on: Kenney just broke a charter rule which requires members to be members for at least 7 days before they can vote, and just had hundreds of youth bussed in from rural Alberta to vote for him after signing them up the same day; he keeps characterizing the NDP’s changes to the education curriculum as “social engineering”–surely you agree the basics of “gay people exist” is not a radical revelation for our rusty and creaky curriculum; Kenney has a long, long track record of voting to erode a woman’s right to choose; women in politics are regularly receiving rape and death threats from his supporters; and he has a soft spot for regressive Christians routinely violating public policy despite pocketing public funds in public contracts. Is that your idea of “fiscal responsibility”–letting scammers who steal from the public purse off the hook because they mumble something about Jesus? How about Kenney grifting national taxpayers to finance his provincial leadership bid? Is that fiscally responsible, too?

You need to soul search, because it’s rapidly starting to look like the fiscal-conservative-socially-progressive types aren’t going to have a party in the next election. Kenney is slated to win the PC leadership and he has been very, very open and forthright about his intention to absorb the Wildrose back into the fold. The problem is that it isn’t the respectables at the helm anymore. It’s the deplorables. The ones who are serious about being socially reactionary. The ones who think death and rape threats are a legitimate vehicle of criticism. The ones Brian Jean has been trying to contain like a beleaguered dog-owner pulling back on the chain of his rabid pup: You know, the ones making targets of the Premier, mocking victims of domestic violence and the assassination of labour-rights politicians, and publicly approving denigrating posts about gay politicians, because there’s apparently not enough policy to criticize?

We have about 3 years to see what damage the deplorables will do under the Republican big tent before our next provincial election. I seriously hope you pay close attention, because here in Alberta the women, trans folk, queer folk, immigrants, people of colour, students, youth, poor, sick, and disabled are all going to be at the mercy of your big tent whose presumed-leadership intends to grind us into dirt. Some of us are even fiscal conservatives ourselves, but our political calculus is tainted by the fact that the party which potentially agrees with our economic policy is bolstered by a highly controlling voting bloc, one that wishes to make life difficult for us “deviants” through a climate of explicit legal and social hostility.

And yes, to head off the accusation that the Left has its own brand of deplorables: It’s true that we have our lunatic fringe as well. The difference is that our Greens bagged 0.49% of the popular vote. Our Communists bagged 0.01%. Neither has a penchant for doxxing their critics, something I can’t say of the right-wing deplorables. Let’s not pretend that radical leftists in this province have a voice. If Kenney succeeds in the creation of another big tent conservatism, that’s well over half the province throwing their weight behind him: And it’s the social regressives at the steering wheel. Your lunatics aren’t a fringe sequestering themselves in Pandora’s Box anymore. The handler’s grip on the leash is slipping, and we’re slated to watch the rabid dog break loose.

There’s two voting blocs this post isn’t addressed to: the capital-P Progressives, and the socially-conservative Conservatives. If you’re the type that has already been convinced by Kenney’s rhetoric that respecting trans kids constitutes an “experiment,” I’m not sure how to communicate with you. We are working with very different data sets and at this point might as well be speaking a different language. This language problem I have no solution for, though if you’re willing to communicate without hurling insults then so am I. We can give it the old college try. And if it fails, you can at least take the liberty of looking me in the eye that my wellbeing matters so little to you that you’d support a reactionary candidate like Kenney. At least be honest about it.

As for Albertan Progressives, I’ll have more detailed plans as we near the 2019 election. There’s too many variables to commit to any given plan just yet, but I am confident I can give you something thorough after the lines are drawn. I know several Pride centres across the province working together with several BLM chapters across the province, so progressives are already teaming up. Start there while we wait for the dust to settle.

To close, here’s the homework for conservative Albertans and Canadians: If it truly matters to you to make a fiscal conservatism that doesn’t deliberately single out minorities for mistreatment, you need to make that clear as your political parties take shape. Albertans, there’s still time to make Wildrose the respectables–Kenney appears to be more-or-less confirmed in taking the PCs hard to the right. And federally? The Conservatives agreed to axe their “one man and one woman” policy on marriage. Push for more of that.

Tonight I attend a federal Liberal party gathering. I intend to raise the spectre of reactionary successes and how the Liberals will almost certainly do what the Democrats did and take the progressive vote for-granted in their next election. Results of that coming soon.

We all have a responsibility to cast informed ballots in our upcoming elections and there’s far too much at stake for minorities to have the respectables become complacent as the deplorables take charge of the conservative apparatus. If you want to be branded as the politics of personal responsibility, then make sure your tent doesn’t have deplorables in it. Denying they exist and are in your tent is anything but responsible.

-Shiv

Reactionaries really don’t need to benefit from humanization

It must be the International Month of False Equivalency because by golly the articles attempting to humanize Trump supporters came out in spades. Whether it was The Advocate trying to delicately explain how and why the white rural voter was disenfranchised in ways that were real or perceived such that it justified a Trump vote or whether it’s Aiden, that trans guy who was turned into a meme by clueless cis folk, trying to say we should “check ourselves” when we see a Trump supporter and think “idiot,” the theme prevalent in these numerous works is that we can’t judge Trump supporters because they’re probably just ignorant.

Okay, so here’s the thing: Hitler had a dog and painted beautiful portraits, Mussolini tucked in his kids at night, Pinochet played a mean game of football (soccer for you yanks), Stalin was an astute scholar, and Pol Pot found a niche in radio electronics. Every mass-scale human rights abuse committed in recorded history has at its helm someone who, if you look closely enough, has entirely ordinary–sometimes supposedly redeeming–qualities.

This does not mean that we should model the eras of Hitler, Mussolini, Pinochet, Stalin, or Pol Pot, all of whom are responsible for stomach-churning atrocities in both depth and breadth. Again, saying we ought to humanize a Trump supporter seems to be operating from the assumption that his critics have been dehumanizing him to begin with.

Because here’s the thing: Good and Evil ought to be understood as things you do, not things you are. If someone tells us we have spinach stuck in our teeth, we do not bristle and say “How can that be? I’m a hygienic person!”

I’m not dehumanizing a Trump supporter when I point out that they are, AT BEST, indifferent to the Republican platform, which features some of the most rabidly anti-woman, anti-black, anti-queer, anti-immigrant, pro-big business, fuck-the-little-guy policies in recorded history. And I’m definitely not at all interested in excusing ignorance in an election like this. The unfortunate truth is that an ignorant vote is equivalent to an informed one, but that doesn’t mean we’re all compelled to stick our head in the sand when it comes to policy.

I don’t support this. I don’t support patting Trump supporters on the head and giving them the permission they so desperately seek to be not be called racist. Motherfucker, you vote for someone whose policy reiterates racial injustice, then you is fucking racist. I’m not giving you that wiggle room. And it won’t make a difference to Trump whether you voted for his racial injustice policy planks or whether you voted in spite of his racial injustice policy planks, the effect is the same: You threw your weight behind him, he potentially gets in office to enact his policy. The ballot doesn’t know the difference. It only knows who you voted for.

The least you can do is pull up your big girl socks and fucking own up to it.

Yes, that applies to Clinton’s supporters. Yes, progressive Americans will need to work overtime to have their interests represented in all levels of government. Yes, Clinton will need to be held accountable to her actions and you ought to strive for that, even if you vote for her. That’s what owning your vote means.

But I charge that Trump supporters haven’t been dehumanized, at least not to a comparable scale to say, black people or QUILTBAG people or disabled people. Me refusing to give them that pat on the head they’re so desperate for is not the same thing as gutting what little social welfare the disabled need to live, or fostering unchecked police brutality to ensure the disproportionate imprisonment of black bodies, or reifying second-class citizenship for QUILTBAG people. It’s me saying “I don’t care whether you consider yourself racist, homophobic, or ableist or not. I care whether you support a political party that intends to dismantle what little progress the country has made in service to vulnerable communities.”

I’m well aware that Trump supporters have dogs and paint paintings and tuck their children to bed and volunteer for homeless shelters and play mean games of chess and pen thoughtful articles in academia. I fucking know, man. The point is, that favour isn’t being returned. It’s the minorities who are being dehumanized to justify or excuse one of the most monstrous Republican platforms in recent memory. It’s trans women being depicted as rapists, it’s black people being depicted as thugs, brown people depicted as terrorists, and cis women being depicted as murderers for exercising bodily autonomy. A single observation from Clinton–that Trump has the support of some seriously questionable characters–is not equivalent to a nationwide sustained smear campaign the way these various groups have been enduring.

And through all this, we have to pat his supporters on the head and assure them they’re not doing harm?

Fuck that shit.

Nobody says we don’t study the terrible atrocities of the 20th century because all of those figures did ordinary human things in their day to day. In fact, we explicitly study those atrocities to learn just how much an ordinary person can do. How much violence we’re willing to tolerate, as long as we’re not the immediate victim. How easily we’re persuaded when we’re in a crowd. How easily we can be persuaded to support the erosion of our own rights.

This is the part the Trump crowd denies. You want to think you’re good people, then start by dismantling this idea that good is something you are, that this simplistic black-and-white thinking is nothing but snake oil salesmanship.

Good is something you do. 

Good is something you can start today.

-Shiv

Transition Reactions p12: Well, *I* don’t talk like that

We return to my personal experiences and so require the should-be-obvious disclaimer that I am not a spokeswoman for the entirety of trans folk.

So obviously I am preoccupied with the extent of trans-antagonism even here in Canada, where the government is finally tackling institutional discrimination by mandating nondiscrimination policies. But par for the course, a lot of people don’t understand what discrimination actually is, and think that if something is made illegal it “stops happening,” and now that it might be illegal to discriminate against trans folk in a few more months we can all go home and stop complaining.

What this attitude overlooks are two things: structural discrimination and personal discrimination. I’ll cover structural discrimination another time but even with personal discrimination there’s a fair bit going on.

It’s been criminal to discriminate against cisgender gay people for years, yet cis gay Canadians still exhibit lower socioeconomic outcomes compared to cisgender heterosexuals (“cis het”). Now if you’re the type of person I can’t speak to politely, you blame cis gays for this. Unfortunately for you, all evidence points to cis het folk still enacting–and getting away with–homo-antagonistic discrimination.

Which creates a problem if I try to talk about homo- and trans-antagonism. This is a problem that starts with the actions of cis het people. That means it is impossible in a thorough analysis not to, at some point, examine the role of the majority in the socioeconomic outcomes of the minority.

Which also means, at some point, I have to talk about you. Yes, you, even the ones who take the time to read a trans voice (I’ve recommended many, hopefully I’m not the only one). While I am grateful that you put your money where your mouth is and remember to seek out information before forming an opinion, it is still necessary to discuss how suspicion and denigration of trans folk, especially trans women, is baked into the common understandings of gender itself, and that all of us (even me) may not be able to reach into the corners of our mind to root it out.

Let’s start with an example from a fellow critic of my favourite punching bag: The Roman Catholic Church. There are no shortage of odious reasons to dislike the Catholic institution: They exploit their publicly funded organizations to proselytize to vulnerable people; they lobby for religious exemptions from secular law so they can continue endangering and abusing women and queer folk; they are openly and unabashedly patriarchal and put an alarming amount of effort into conditioning their congregation to accept and propagate this; they shield the perpetrators of child sexual assault; they compare gender variance to nuclear weapons; they guilt-trip their congregation into financing these human rights abuses; and they make sure their church bells are obnoxiously fucking loud.

I could go on, but the point is that there are a few criticisms floating around where the most cutting criticism an atheist can muster against the Church is that its figurehead wears a “dress.” I think that reflects a very interesting system of values where all those other egregious crimes against humanity are somehow unworthy of mention. From a Humanist perspective, “patriarch” is an insult–or at least it ought to be. You needn’t bring in a morally neutral activity such as crossdressing to suggest the Pope is worthy of condemnation. I think you can reach a little higher for better fruit than that.

So it manifests among otherwise well-meaning atheists who are generally in favour of QUILTBAG rights & affirmation yet haven’t made the connection between mocking people like Trump because of statues depicting him as fat and ostensibly intersex; and how this message simultaneously denigrates fat & intersex people. As with the Pope, it’s not like there’s a shortage of reasons to really rag on Trump here.

Having written about these issues for a long time I won’t suggest we reduce our coverage trying to understand the impact of deliberate, willful trans-antagonism. I am all too happy to render individual Catholics uncomfortable when I suggest their institution advocates for my psychiatric abuse and that they are complicit in this. And the damage Catholic lobbyists have done to human rights issues is undeniable across the globe.

But supporting a community as embattled as the trans community means understanding that a broader body of accidental, unintentional bias still contributes to our difficulties, and in that respect I need myself and anyone who calls themselves a trans ally to not write ourselves off when we talk about trans-antagonism. That means when I say stuff like “cis het people do this,” don’t walk out of the room and count yourself out because you’re “one of the good ones.” It’s quite likely that you have and will do ‘this,’ even if by accident.

It’s okay, the same is true for me. I just hope we all have the patience and maturity to sit ourselves down and learn from it. What we don’t need is for you to tell us what a great ally you are, we need you to show us by contributing to the accountability of those advancing trans-antagonistic positions, even if unintentionally. Which includes yourself.

 

-Shiv

Words matter: Trans woman murdered after father calls for her death on TV

Content Notice: transmisogynistic murder, misgendering

I want to show this to the “sticks and stones” crowd, the free speech absolutists whose whining about pushback to denigrating trans people remains blissfully unaware of the violence we actually face because of trans-antagonistic attitudes.

A Russian woman was brutally hacked to death mere days after her wedding after her father called for her death on TV because she is transgender:

A transgender Muslim woman in Russia was hacked to death only days after marrying the man of her dreams.

Raina Aliev’s own own father had gone on television publicly called for her murder.

‘Bring him here and kill him in front of my eyes,’ Alimshaikh Aliev had told a local TV station.

‘Let him be killed, I don’t want to see him. Bring him here and kill him in front of my eyes.’

Aliev, 25, had gender confirmation surgery in Moscow and married a man named Viktor, according to the Daily Mail.

The victim had informed law enforcement authorities about the threat but to no avail.

The circumstances of her murder and where the killing took place have not been revealed. But it is known that the body was cut up and unrecognizable.

It’s the deadliest year on record to be transgender, with every country that tracks demographic-specific hate crime reporting massive spikes in anti-queer and anti-trans violent crime.

And all you can get cis folk to talk about is fuck mothering pronouns.

-Shiv

Second free speech rally at U of T: Less violent, still wrong

Content Notice: More trans-antagonistic codswallop.

A second rally for “free speech” was recently hosted at the University of Toronto inspired by the events of Dr. Jordan Peterson’s hysterics, in which the protesters characterize Bill C-16 as being Orwellian, totalitarian, and Maoist. This event was considerably smaller–only 60 attendants versus several hundred–and it did not feature Dr. Peterson himself nor was Rebel Media there to foment a riot. When you don’t have avowedly dishonest demagogues whipping people into a frenzy, actual dialogue can occur.

Colour me surprised.

The protesters and the Facebook event are described as follows:

The event’s description on Facebook stated that “radical left wing activists are trying to impose censorship on our thoughts and speech, and declare a moratorium on any form of expression that THEY deem offensive.”

The rally’s organizers insisted their event was apolitical.Speaking to The Varsity, organizer Maria Morzc said that “Free speech is not a system of beliefs; it is a fundamental human right. And, also, free speech is, basically, I mean, all we want is to state our opinions without being silenced, without being labelled, without being assaulted, and we welcome members of the so-called ‘radical left.’”

Another organizer, Riley Moher, described the group as “not a libertarian group, we’re not an alt-right group, we’re not a liberal group, we just stand for the freedom of speech.”

Here we go, in the spirit of actual dialogue: Basically everything you said is still bullshit. Let’s walk through this one word at a time.

radical left wing activists

Man, isn’t it great how scary you can make something sound when you label it as “radical”? Respecting the pronouns of trans people is radical now. It really is illustrating the bias here. Bill C-16 would criminalize the advocacy of genocide against trans people as well as public incitements to violence, but apparently saying you shouldn’t do that is “radical.” 

Hypothesis: “Radical” here means, “people I don’t like.”

are trying to impose censorship on our thoughts and speech

Only the exact same censorship on your speech that has already existed for every other protected class in the Criminal Code for 40 odd years now. Are you seriously defending the right of people to advocate for genocide?

Also, how does one censor thoughts? No one has said you ought to be subjected to a frontal lobotomy for your inanity. Ridiculous.

and declare a moratorium on any form of expression that THEY deem offensive.

I’ll happily point out you’re trying to declare a moratorium on respecting trans people’s pronouns. It’s a knife that cuts both ways here.

The rally’s organizers insisted their event was apolitical

And I’m the Queen of England.

Free speech is not a system of beliefs; it is a fundamental human right.

Human rights are a system of beliefs. There is no objective system granting value to people’s lives. That is a social construct we more-or-less agree upon to facilitate stability and relative safety in our society. But we are, in the scheme of the universe itself, just a bunch of carbon bickering with itself on an irrelevant speck of sand on a miles long beach.

And, also, free speech is, basically, I mean, all we want is to state our opinions without being silenced

Okay but Bill C-16, again, is concerned with those opinions that think we should die for being who we are. If you aren’t calling for us to be put to death, you are more likely to be struck by lightning than charged with a hate crime.

It is also free speech for people to criticize you. Nobody is silencing you when we say you’re full of shit, or factually wrong, or blind to your own biases. I suspect what you actually want is to say a bunch of bullshit and go unchallenged for it.

without being labelled

CALLED IT.

What do you want me to do? “Transphobic” or “trans-antagonistic” are just words attempting to condense “suspicion or denigration of trans identities” into fewer syllables. Do you want to censor me for pointing out these patterns of belief as expressed by you and your freeze peach lobby?

without being assaulted

Okay sure, but that at least applies to both sides here. More generally, trans people are many many many many times more likely to be assaulted than you are, so maybe you should be directing your anti-assault efforts to cis people? Just a suggestion.

and we welcome members of the so-called ‘radical left.’

For the record, that was Dr. Peterson’s framing of the issue. I do not consider myself radical because I expect the correct name and pronouns to be used in reference to me as is the case with all cis people.

(I consider myself radical because I would see the means of production in the hands of the proletariat).

not a libertarian group

Free Speech Absolutism is certainly compatible with Libertarianism though.

we’re not an alt-right group

Your particular rally doesn’t set off those bells of mine, no. Your rally is a babbling mess but it reminds me more of naive freshmen still railing against “The Man” than it does of reactionary dickheads who want to deliberately restore second-class citizenship for anyone not cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, white and male.

we’re not a liberal group

I promise you the last thing I was going to accuse you of was being liberal.

we just stand for the freedom of speech

Just freedom for thee and none for me, apparently. Remember, you want to express your bullshit without me criticizing you for expressing bullshit. That’s not how this works.

 

Next statement:

A number of the speakers made comparisons between the university’s request that Peterson stop making public statements and totalitarianism. One speaker compared their struggle to the struggles of Chinese citizens decades ago in having to adopt the ideology of Maoism or face execution. “We’re faced [with] the idea of political correctness, with the social ostracization of us, of people who speak out against such mediocrity, against such cruelty, against such an affront to human rationality and the liberal values that Canada and America and the rest of the civilized world has been based on,” he said.

This is rich.

One speaker compared their struggle to the struggles of Chinese citizens decades ago in having to adopt the ideology of Maoism or face execution

We don’t have the death penalty in Canada.

We’re faced [with] the idea of political correctness

As I’ve said before, the freeze peach crowd wants to install political correctness too: It wants to elevate ignorance about gender variance to be politically correct despite the mountain of evidence contradicting their statements. We all want political correctness, and you need to stop pretending otherwise.

with the social ostracization of us

I’m sorry, none of the free speech protesters have been doxxed and are receiving death threats. It’s the trans protesters who cannot return to class until the RCMP has contained or discredited the threats. You’re trying to tell me that saying you’re full of shit is “ostracization”? You whiny fucking child.

of people who speak out against such mediocrity, against such cruelty

Expecting you to use the correct pronoun is “cruelty” now. I suppose the 90+% of us who have been, you know, actually assaulted is–what–mercy?

against such an affront to human rationality

Ahhh the old “my opponent is crazy” rhetorical tactic.

the liberal values that Canada and America and the rest of the civilized world has been based on

Liberal values like my right to say you’re full of shit? I am happily exercising that, right now.

 

Next statement:

Jacob Ritchie was walking by the event when he decided to participate, and he expressed an opposing view. Speaking of Bill C-16 — a piece of legislation aimed at protecting individuals from discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression that Peterson criticizes in one of his lectures — Ritchie said to the crowd, “There’s nothing saying, like, if you go up to a guy and talk to them and you don’t use their pronouns you go to jail or you’re sectioned under the human rights law. It’s if you discriminate against them and you can go and prove that they’ve suffered a harm. And really I think there’s a much higher bar for that than you guys think there is. I think this whole thing is misguided.”

Guess what the freeze peach attenders did?

Ritchie was heckled by some attendees during his statements

“Freedom for me and none for thee” indeed. The organizer of the rally hushed the hecklers, to their credit, but it really punches holes in the whole “freedom of speech” banner they claim to fly.

Again, the high bar Ritchie is referring to is “advocacy for genocide” and “public incitement of hatred.” Are you seriously having to check yourself constantly lest you accidentally let slip “death to all trans”? These fears raised by the freeze peach crowd just do not connect with any reasonable sense of risk. It would be like objecting to the criminalization of attempted murder because every time you walk past someone you have to steel yourself to not randomly stab them to death. Seriously?

 

Next statement:

Morzc said that her cause supports marginalized groups and stressed the importance of free expression to address the issues that these groups face.“Please clear up the confusion. Because, you know, we support the LGBTQ rights and the Black rights, the rights of Black students, the rights of Black individuals in society, in general, and we recognize that they face unique challenges, and we recognize that they need to address those challenges,” she explained. “However, we believe that actually promoting freedom of speech and freedom of expression would go a long way towards actually addressing these existing problems, and stifling free speech will do the opposite.”

I love the “I’m not prejudiced, but” line. It never works.

The former half of Morzc’s statement is just peachy keen, but I fail to see how you can reconcile the intention to promote the safety and well-being of QUILTBAG citizens when there are other citizens who have no intentions of interrogating their prejudices, no intentions of listening or learning, no intentions of fact checking, and every intention of avowedly and self-admittedly antagonizing the safety and well-being of those QUILTBAG citizens. It’s just not compatible to claim reactionary dickheads who want to hurt us deserve the platform to express those sentiments whilst also claiming to care about the QUILTBAG people targeted by this prejudice.

Peterson is a professor. Now that he has gone on record to publicly state he has every intention of discriminating against the trans students who enter his class, he has explicitly erected a barrier to trans folk at the U of T. If any of his classes are core classes for a degree, then trans folk trying to get that degree now have to enter Dr. Peterson’s class trusting that his prejudice won’t unfairly affect his ability to grade them. Alternatively, if they can pretend to not be trans, they might be able to avoid that prejudice–but then, Dr. Peterson forcing trans students to make that choice in the first place (if it’s even an option) clearly demonstrates that he has disregarded the rights of the trans students, specifically the right to access education. This isn’t an issue of two peers in disagreement. This is an issue of a person in a position of authority openly admitting he will abuse that authority to single out certain students.

This is what the U of T faculty were referring to in their letter, that as an educator he has a “responsibility to follow the law and follow U of T policies.” If the U of T doesn’t want to be known as a school that deliberately creates barriers for a certain class of students, it is compelled to repudiate Dr. Peterson. Dr. Peterson has admitted he knows this. He’s tapping into the martyr complex of the far-right by throwing himself on the sword, proving that the “SJWs” and “radical-leftists” are out to get him, when in reality we recognize that he is compromising a number of rights that trans people theoretically have, which have less to do with pronouns and more to do with accessing the same education everybody else can get. They will blame us for the target he painted on his own back.

There’s no guarantee how this will go. Being tenured, it will be next to impossible to actually turf Peterson. But the U of T also has the right to recognize the effect his spastic, howling, attention-seeking episode has had on trans students.

Ultimately what the freeze peach crowd wants is freedom from consequences, as evidenced by their obsession with Peterson. They want their prejudice against trans people to go unchallenged. Peterson is just a convenient screen onto which these anxieties are projected. That’s why it’s not about the legalities of Bill C-16: If they could be bothered to do their homework on Canada’s hate crime legislation, they’d see the threshold you have to cross to be charged. Since I doubt so many of them are publicly posting plans for school shootings, I also doubt any of them will ever face legal consequences for their actions.

And so we resort to social consequences. You know, the things like “that isn’t corroborated by the evidence,” “that’s not true,” “the study doesn’t say that,” “citation needed,” “that’s incredibly rude,” “there’s no reason to believe that,” that sort of thing?

Hardly the disappearing act of the KGB these freeze peachers so fearfully anticipate.

-Shiv

Transition Reactions p11: Facts don’t care about your feelings

It cannot be understated that the sheer volume of ignorance about gender variance weighs down on me. I see the same shit repeating itself over and over. It is not the ignorance that is the problem, at least not by itself–but the belief that knowledge is somehow unnecessary to form an opinion on something, which is likely the sole contributor to my blood pressure problems. That is a belief which should be nuked from orbit, because if people actually practiced it, we wouldn’t have cis people passing shitty laws about trans people based off of knee-jerk “eww cooties” reactions or an entire lobby calling itself pro-“life” despite advocating for policies that continually endanger women.

i pun gud

i pun gud

As today’s Transition Reactions is about facts, I will not be including the usual disclaimer about anecdotes and personal experience.

So let’s dismantle one of the more irritating bludgeons used against trans women: “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”

Facts exist regardless of how we feel about them–that is true, unless you’re a solipsist. The problem is the people employing this deepity seldom understand the establishment of what makes a fact to begin with.

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Reminder: Sweet Cakes by Melissa wasn’t merely sued for discrimination

They also doxxed the lesbian couple lodging the complaint:

But that was not all the couple suffered.

Laurel Bowman-Cryer filed a complaint in January 2013, but because she filed it online on her smartphone she was not shown the disclaimer informing her that the complaint, including her name and address, would be sent to the individual against whom it was being made. When Aaron Klein received the complaint, he immediately published it on his Facebook page in full, with Laurel’s name and address included.

That’s right, the Kleins doxxed the Bowman-Cryers.

In testimony Tuesday, Rachel Bowman-Cryer said she and her wife received death threats as media attention and criticism from strangers escalated in the months after the story went national in January 2013.

She said the threats were part of a stream of “hateful, hurtful things” that came after the couple’s contact information (home address, phone and email) was posted on Aaron Klein’s personal Facebook page. She said she feared for her life and her wife’s life.

And it’s worse even than that, because the couple had foster children.

Also on Tuesday, Rachel Bowman-Cryer disclosed that she and Laurel felt an even greater level of stress because they were foster parents for two young girls and feared they might lose the children.

She said they spoke to state adoption officials who told them it was the couple’s responsibility to protect the children and keep privileged information confidential, even as their own privacy was threatened by news coverage of the case.

The next time you see someone upset about that nice baker couple Oregon ordered to pay $135,000 to that spiteful thin-skinned lesbian couple, let them know that that nice baker couple doxxed the lesbian couple and very nearly cost them custody of their two children as a result. And then send them a copy of the court’s final ruling.

I signal boost this reminder from Libby over on Patheos because Sweet Cakes by Melissa returned to the news when they announced their closure, blaming the “gay mafia” for their loss of business–despite the fact that bigots raised an extra $300,000 over the damages they lost–all of which they pocketed. It seems that the coverage doesn’t adequately remind its readers that the plaintiffs were doxxed for having the audacity to challenge Christian entitlement.

Regardless, losing all your business sounds like a response from the Free Market. Here I thought Conservatives trusted the Invisible Hand. Or is that only when the Invisible Hand is directed by Invisible Backers?

Hmm.

-Shiv

I’m not ____ist, but: A note on so-called moderates

The so-called moderate conservatives in Alberta have a lot of criticisms of the current NDP government. There is a common refrain that Notley was only elected to punish the arrogant Jim Prentice, the former leader of the now defunct “Progressive” Conservatives. I don’t doubt that there are a lot of uninformed voters who cast their ballot in this fashion–this candidate is an asshole, this candidate smiles nice–but they seem to miss the part where many of us voted for Notley because the Albertan NDP had a mostly sane, mostly evidence-based platform.

I’m glad to see that these so called moderate conservatives care about such issues as poverty, unemployment, rampant drug addictions, violent crime, sex trafficking, palliative care, overburdened healthcare providers, enormous class sizes, and so on. But increasingly I am noticing a pattern where actually resolving these issues with time tested methods is met with vocal objections by these moderates.

Canadian oil isn’t as attractive as it used to be, so fewer people are buying it, which means oil companies engaged in massive lay offs to protect their bottom lines in response to the tanking value of their commodity. This isn’t a new phenomenon. It happened under the previous government every few years, too. The nature of Alberta’s oil-dependent economy has always meant being extremely vulnerable to the whims of the global market since it’s the only thing we’re selling that rakes in the big bucks. And if nobody’s buying?

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Defending the indefensible

You’ve probably heard by now that a number of beaches in France have banned the burkini. Far from a rational response, these policies are absurd, sexist, racist, immoral and entirely indefensible. And yet, I see many arguments even from so-called free thinking people defending this policy.

Excuse #1: The French have been victims of a string of terrorist attacks and are scared

This might be a reasonable explanation for how the owners of these beaches thought this was a great idea, but it does not actually excuse the policy. A random Muslim on the street is no more culpable for the Nice or Paris attacks than I am for the routine Planned Parenthood terrorist attacks carried out by self righteous white Christians. It is racist to presume that every brown-skinned person is complicit in the attack because they are not, AT THIS EXACT SECOND, protesting or otherwise condemning the violence. That is a backward and perverted idea of justice.

They’re people. They have errands to run and chores to do. Even though every mosque goes on record to condemn a terrorist attack the moment it happens, this is not enough. Brown people who are on their way to the grocery store? They’re complicit in the violence! Taking time to do housekeeping or paying the bills? Tacit approval! Engaging in self care–including trips to the beach? That’s practically an endorsement! Arrest! Deport! Publicly humiliate!

You wouldn’t try to argue I’m complicit in poverty because I don’t donate 100% of my earnings to shelters. You shouldn’t try to argue that because Muslims may have spoons invested elsewhere they agree with terrorists, particularly when they do adhere to your ridiculous demands and condemn the attacks anyway. Neither Muslims nor brown people should have to prove their humanity to you.

Fuck off. Fear does not justify irrationality, it causes it. Have some fucking perspective. After all, many of the victims at Nice were Muslims.

I have a question. What does the burkini ban actually solve? Are you intercepting finances directed towards ISIS? Disarming dangerous people?

Oh, here’s a good one, Excuse #2. “Liberating women.”

Excuse #2: We’re liberating women.

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